Miserable Anticlimactic Affair Made It An Old Firm Match


Today’s fixture at Hampden Park answered some questions…

Firstly that there’s a giant chasm between Glasgow’s green half and the blue half.

Secondly, the fact that the fixture could never live up to the build up proved once again that this fixture was an Old Firm match up. As only Old Firm ties can create such a dour display that we just can’t really take our eyes off of, just in case.

Celtic ended the spectacle in under ten minutes when Leigh Griffiths steered his header past Rangers keeper Steve Simonsen. Then Kris Commons the produced a rasping shot that careered past Simonsen before half time, putting Celtic in cruise control.

In all honesty the game was dire, I don’t think I’ve seen such a poor Old Firm match.

The pitch didn’t help. It was all cut-up before kick-off and got steadily worse during the ninety minutes. It’s terrible showing highlights the mismanagement that heads up Scotland’s national game.

What’s the point in boosting the coffers by having it used as a Commonwealth games venue and by over-pricing Scottish national games if you don’t reinvest and make the pitch at Hampden the best it could be. You wonder why our game has issues getting lucrative sponsors, until you then remember that the SFA are hopeless at showing off our game. Fifty-four countries tuned in to watch today’s encounter and many will be asking themselves why?

Questions will also need to be asked about policing and stewarding as Celtic fans were seen brandishing flares during the half time break.

I always feel sorry for referees, they have the toughest of jobs and every fan or spectator will have a go when they get it wrong.  But you can’t comment on the game without stating that Craig Thomson was pretty poor with a lot of his calls. He was too eager to blow his whistle and often stifled play. The decision not to give Celtic a dangerous freekick towards the end of the game when Lee McCulloch was enthusiastically booting John Guidetti and taking out Scott Brown was farcical especially when he instead decided to give Gers the decision.

This Rangers side were terrible from the get-go. They lack any energy, pace or creativity.

The team were made up of players past their best like Kenny Miller, Stevie Smith and the aforementioned McCulloch or from second-rate (decent at best) former Scottish Premiership stars like Darren McGregor, Ian Black and Richard Foster. The side made so many poor, mistimed passes and failed to clear the ball when they had chances, it was clear that they were over awed by their stronger foes and the occasion.

In the Gers goal Steve Simonsen has made a career out of being a back-up and not a very good back-up at that. He is slow, clumsy and instills no confidence for those playing in front of him. He was a poor signing and Rangers always seemed to understand that the goalkeeping positions were paramount to success even when signing a number two goalie.

Rangers lost the game before a ball was kicked in my opinion. There’s no leadership at Ibrox from the boardroom to the management team. That was demonstrated before kick-off when the Govan sides caretaker boss Kenny McDowall trotted upstairs to Celtic’s dugout to welcome Ronnie Deila and his coaching staff. Now no true Old Firm manager like Walter Smith or Martin O’Neill would have made such a gesture before a big game. It just looked like he was conceding the game before it had even started.

Celtic weren’t that great either, if truth be told, but were twenty times better than their rivals. Just making three passes in a row or sending in a decent ball from a set play had them out-performing Rangers.

In the past two seasons I always said that part of Rangers problem was that they were dragged down by inferior opposition. Today that was they did to Celtic in the second half, they brought the ‘Hoops’ down to their level. By the end I was yelling for the final whistle to put everyone out of their misery. Although the second half did bring us some thunderous challenges and that edge made it feel like an Old Firm.

For me, Scott Brown was head and shoulders above everyone else on the park. He has a swagger that galvanised his teammates and seemed to make his opponents smaller in his shadow. The Celtic captain seemed to cover every blade of grass and went in hard with his challenges. He has matured as a player and now judges expertly when to break forward or when to hang back. His tackle on Ian Black at the end was very calculated. It stirred everything up without disrupting the majority of the game.

In March, I fully expect (given a better pitch) that Celtic and Dundee United will offer up a better spectacle on final day.

But at least we have got through our first Old Firm encounter in three years without too much on-field drama and hopefully nothing serious in the streets either. It failed to become the scintillating affair that many would have wanted or have the full-on aggression that typically happens when these two sides meet but alas the build up is usually better than the match. Just a case of history repeating itself.

One Response to “Miserable Anticlimactic Affair Made It An Old Firm Match”

  1. Rangers looked like a club that had been liquidated and all it’s assets sold off.
    There’s nothing left of Rangers at the moment except 50 thousand odd fans and a picture of the Queen.
    Were somehow in worse shape now than 2 years ago.
    Media must feel slightly embarrassed, they need Rangers to exist, so you can understand the willingness to pretend otherwise. But you can’t really have a football team with no management or players, just bad actors.

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